This summer, I helped to facilitate a Monument Quilt workshop on the Johns Hopkins campus. In the days before the workshop, I felt rather doubtful of my abilities as a facilitator. Both the resources provided on the website and a few conversations with Hannah Brancato certainly helped to assuage my nerves. But it was only once the workshop began that I realized that the project itself brought with it an energy that seemed to be soothing to all involved. Ours was a small group of about six students, and we were situated in a small, sunlit room intended for crafting.
On a campus where there is no center for women or any sort of designated physical place where we can organize as a group, we were able to claim a space of our own through the Monument Quilt. Laid out on the hallway floor of a largely administrative building to dry, our squares created a Monument Quilt display of their own, in what I saw as a sort of metaphor for campus activism around sexual assault. Together, we experienced the catharsis of harnessing the energy that many of us otherwise ignore toward creating something tangible, uniquely beautiful, and uniquely ours. Beyond making our quilt squares, we were able to candidly discuss rape culture on our campus, and began to think about how we can address it together as students. Even seemingly trivial moments, such as when one participant guided us all through the terror that is the iron-on adhesive, were significant. Through this sort of collaboration, I felt a genuine sense of togetherness with those involved with the workshop. While not everyone finished their squares in the four hours that we were together, each of us has plans to continue with the project. It will feel deeply rewarding to see our squares as part of the final Monument Quilt.
Our stories are sewn together, and we are not alone.